GREEN BAY, Wis. – Here’s a look at the Green Bay Packers’ cornerback situation ahead of the NFL Draft, including pertinent history that suggests which draft-worthy prospects might not be a target.
State of the Packers
The need here is obvious. Kevin King suffered through another injury-plagued season and was beaten like a drum in the NFC Championship Game. Chandon Sullivan had a solid season in the slot but might be better suited for a sixth-man role. Not only can the Packers do better, but King and Sullivan are back on one-year deals, so there is a long-term viewpoint to consider. Moreover, recent draft picks Josh Jackson and Ka’dar Hollman couldn’t even get on the field for the playoffs. Maybe new defensive coordinator Joe Barry’s scheme will be just the ticket. But, at the very least, the Packers need to add a cornerback with a forward-thinking selection.
Draft Position Ranking
Second out of 11. This is a loaded draft class. The top of the draft might not be awesome but the depth is fantastic. A scout guessed 15 players would be taken in the first three rounds. All bets are off after Alabama’s Patrick Surtain II and South Carolina’s Jaycee Horn go somewhere in the Top 15. With size, speed and slot ability, there’s something for everyone in this group. As an added bonus, unlike the receiver class, this class has plenty of height.
History Says You Can (Maybe) Forget These Guys
The Packers don’t draft short guys at any position and they don’t draft them at cornerback, either. Call it the ghosts of Ron Wolf and Mike Sherman, who swung and missed on undersized Terrell Buckley in 1992 and Ahmad Carroll in 2004. In the 16 drafts conducted by Ted Thompson and Brian Gutekunst, 14 cornerbacks were selected. Alexander was a real outlier at 5-foot-10 1/4 – a half-inch shorter than any other corner and at least an inch shorter than 10 corners – but still over that 5-foot-10 “Mendoza Line,” as Gutekunst put it on Monday.
Going with 5-foot-10 (no rounding allowed) as the cutoff, only one player would be out among the premier prospects: Washington slot Elijah Molden at 5-foot-9 1/2. He’s a heck of a player and would fill a need, so he’d be quite a litmus test of Gutekunst’s no-short-guys mentality if he fell deep into the second. Others falling short (pun intended) include Michigan State’s Shakur Brown, Oklahoma’s Tre Brown and LSU’s Kary Vincent.
Blazing speed hasn’t been a necessity. While 10 were faster than historic Combine average of 4.50 seconds, Micah Hyde (4.56), Jackson (4.56) and Quinten Rollins (4.57) were slower. Molden (4.60) and Shakur Brown (4.63) are among the slowest corners.
The 20-yard shuttle seems to be a big deal at most positions but not at corner. The historic Combine average is 4.17. Six were faster and eight were slower. King and Alexander got under 4.00 seconds but former Gonzaga college basketball player Demetri Goodson was at the other extreme with a 4.34. The Georgia tandem of Eric Stokes (4.36) and Tyson Campbell (4.45) ran shower shuttles than Goodson but posted excellent 40s and have height.
Maybe the place to look is the three-cone drill. The Combine average is 6.94 seconds. Other than Rollins, the last nine corners selected by the Packers beat that by at least 0.08 seconds. King (6.56), Davon House (6.65), Alexander (6.71), Casey Hayward (6.76) and Hyde (6.78) crushed the average. Chalking up the Rollins pick as a lesson learned in going with college production over NFL measureables, using the Combine average as a cutoff might eliminate Georgia’s Stokes (6.96 but he ran a 4.29 40) and Campbell (7.15 but a 4.36 in the 40), Florida State’s Asante Samuel (6.98, though his 40 and shuttle were excellent), Syracuse’s Ifeatu Melifonwu (7.01) and Kentucky’s Kelvin Joseph (7.21) among the top prospects.
The vertical jumps have ranged from 31 inches to 41 inches. Randall’s 8 5/8-inch hands are smaller than just about every corner in this year’s draft class. Arm length has ranged from 30 1/4 inches to 32 inches.
Putting all the athletic numbers into the kettle, King, Will Blackmon and Alexander had Relative Athletic Scores of better than 9.5 on its 0-to-10 scale. Rollins, Hyde and Goodson were 5.5 or worse.
The bizarro pick of the bunch was Rollins, who was slower than the average in the 40, shuttle (4.28) and three-cone drill (7.10) while having only average height (5-11 1/8) and explosiveness (36.5 vertical).